February 24, 2015 § 15 Comments
A buddy sent me this list. The title made me laugh, and the list made me think … lots here for the cycling world, the world in general, and, ulp, me.
- Thinking that what you do or say or have is better than what others do or say or have. “Yeah, but my frame has a lower serial number.”
- Always wanting to get your way regardless of how it affects others. “My bars can fit in that quickly slamming door, and if I go down, sucks to be the guys behind me.”
- Arguing when you are not right, or, when you are, insisting stubbornly or with bad manners. “Of course those tires are 25mm, you idiot.”
- Giving your opinion without being asked for it, or when charity does not demand that you to do so. “If you want to win more races, you need to … “
- Despising the point of view of others. “Who cares what those maroons think? They’re tri-dorks.”
- Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan. “You know how come I won? Because I fuggin’ earned it!”
- Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honor or esteem, of the ground you are treading on or the things you own. “Check out these killer Fakebook photos of me on the podium! Awesome, huh?”
- Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation. “When I think about great race tactics, it reminds me of the time I attacked with three to go in the Hooterville Petit-Prix.”
- Speaking badly about yourself so that others may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you with flattery. “Aw, I’m such a maroon to have won that stage race by ten minutes.”
- Making excuses when rebuked. “My fault? The guy in front crashed me out!”
- Hiding humiliating faults from someone you depend on so that he won’t lose the good opinion he has of you. “I only have one glass of wine a day. With dinner.”
- Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you. [Strikes very close to home, that one.]
- Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you. “She’s not that good. I beat her two years ago at the Hooterville Midi-Prix.”
- Refusing to carry out menial tasks. “Air up my tires, would you?”
- Seeking or wanting to be singled out. “Didja get a picture of me in the break? Didja?”
- Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige. “When I was awarded the Legion of Honor for saving everyone on the ship, I was so embarrassed–it’s not the kind of thing we brain surgeons train for.”
- Being ashamed of not having certain possessions. “We can’t invite them over, honey. They’d see how we really live.”
- Add your own!
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February 23, 2015 § 60 Comments
After the CBR crit last week I was rolling around with G$. He had fired a thousand artillery shells and I’d fired a hundred mortar rounds in our vain attempts to get away. Robb M., who had fired a dribble from his tiny squirt gun, came by as we were chatting. “Are you guys dating?” he snarked as he passed.
The following week was Rosena Ranch, a nasty, hilly, miserable little 2.7-mile circuit with two stinging climbs and two ripping downhills. I looked around at the start line. G$ was there, but Robb was apparently busy that weekend.
G$ broke away on the fourth of eleven laps with Jaycee Cary of LaGrange. I clawed onto their rear wheel as teammates Alan Flores, Harold Martinez, Dave Jaeger, Jon Edwards, and Jon Nist clogged the front like avocado pits in a garbage disposal.
After a couple of laps Jaycee sat up, brains oozing from his knees and a soft moaning sound emanating from his armpits. It was just me and Greg. I thought briefly about Coach Holloway’s two injunctions:
- Always be the second strongest guy in the break.
- Have a plan to win.
The first injunction was easy. G$ ripped through each lap like a sailor on shore leave rips through a whorehouse. I did my share of the work, and Greg did the other 99%. But the “have a plan to win” part wasn’t turning out so well.
As G$’s efforts put more and more time on the subdued and demoralized field, it was simultaneously subduing and demoralizing me. But at the beginning of our breakaway how different it all had been!
For years I had fantasized about riding a break with Greg. How good it would be, just him and me as we punched our way to victory. And now here I was, having finally taken all the clothes off that cute girl in high school I’d been dreaming about. She was right there in front of me, buck naked, offering up her soft yet firm breasts as her erect nipples stood to attention under the gentle caresses of my tongue.
I pressed myself on top of her as she spread her legs, trembling with excitement as I hovered on the verge of plunging myself into that hot and welcoming refuge of ecstasy.
But then, WHAM! She was pounding my nuts with a hammer.
Then, WHAM! She was stomping my dick with giant hob-nailed boots.
Then, WHAM! She was beating my teeth out with a brick.
Then, WHAM! She was stuffing a roll of barbed wire up my butt.
How could something that had begun so right be going so wrong? In the midst of my agony, as G$ wasn’t even breathing, he turned back to me and smiled. “Dude,” he said, “if we stick this out to the line, this win is yours.”
Anyone else would have understood this as the perfect winning plan. But I had a much worse one, so I shook my head. “Fuck you,” I said. “I don’t want any gifts. No gifts!” I had forgotten that you’re only supposed to proudly repudiate gifted wins a-la Pantani on Ventoux after you cross the line.
G$ shrugged as we hit the bottom of the climb. “If you say so.” He punched it so hard that all of the other beatings seemed like loving caresses. I fell off the back then clawed my way back to his wheel, gasping.
He looked back as we hit the turnaround and attacked again. I flailed as hard as I could and reattached to his rear wheel. “Hey, man,” I said. “You know how you were saying about me winning? Is that deal still on the table?”
He answered with another punch to the gonads, then settled into a pace that was harder than a fourth-grade word problem.
On the bell lap we crested the final climb before the roaring descent, which turned into a gentle kicker to the line. G$ looked over at me. Then he reached down and slowly took out his water bottle, smiling.
“What the fuck is he doing that for? GO NOW!” I shouted to me, and go I did. Full gas. Nothing held back. The gap was instantaneous and big, but somehow he closed it with 200m to the line.
“Sprunt!” I shrieked to myself, cranking out the massive 450-watt finishing effort that has made me a watchword the world over. “I’m winning!” I continued to yell internally. Somehow, G$ wasn’t coming around! I was beating him! I was awesome! I was the greatest! I had done it!
The line flashed by, and you know what? A picture is worth a thousand words. Oh, and a question: If his hands are off the bars, does that mean he wasn’t really sprinting?
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February 21, 2015 § 46 Comments
I have done a lot of things in my life. When I was five I sold fudge at the Bolivar Ferry Landing in Galveston for “Y” Indian Guides. I didn’t make a lot of money because I ate most of the fudge.
When I was eight I sold newspapers and mowed lawns. I also sold Christmas candles door-to-door year round, but I never made much money because I liked to keep the candles and fill up my room with them. Also, I had to stop that job when I caught the curtains on fire. “What are you doing with fifty-eight lit candles in your room?” my mother yelled as she beat out the flames with the New York Times.
Dad came up, looked at the charred remnants, and said, “Give me the business section when you’re done with it.”
I did telephone surveys for Houston Interviewing, a hole-in-the-wall place where I first heard a woman say the words “suck cock.” She was the assistant manager. I expected the god I didn’t believe in to strike her with lightning, but when he didn’t I borrowed fifty dollars from her to buy an O’Neill wetsuit.
I sacked groceries at the Kroger around the corner. I was too weird to be a checker and too prone to thievery, so I bagged groceries and pushed the mop bucket over to Aisle 9 where people always broke the ketchup bottles. Clifford Zataratus and I smoked dope out on the loading docks and tossed stuff into the dumpster that we’d retrieve after closing hours.
One night he took me to Sloopy’s Pool Hall and got in a fight. They beat him up good. I hid underneath his car. When the beating stopped the other guys walked off. They were men, actually. Clifford opened the trunk of his Monte Carlo, took out a baseball bat, and beat up all three. I heard my first leg snap and heard my first grown man beg not to be killed while blood gushed out of his mouth and he lay on the ground spitting teeth and writhing on his shattered knee.
My junior year of high school I sold subscriptions to the Houston Post over the phone. There was a punk who started after me who sold a lot of stuff. His name was Michael Dell. Even then he was a douchebag, and we hated him because he outsold the entire sales team.
I worked for the Gap and I worked for Naughty Niceties, a clothing shop at Sharpstown Mall that sold nasty underwear. That job only lasted for two weeks. These greasy looking men would come in leering at their drunken girlfriends and ask them to “model the crotchless.” I left when one of the women asked me to go into the changing room to “model the crotchless” and her skinny, pimply boyfriend asked if he could watch.
In college I typed papers because I had a Selectric. Some freak in Dobie Mall had his own fuggin’ personal computer. “Everyone will use these in five years,” he said.
“Sure,” I sneered. “And I bet they won’t use IBM Selectrics, either.”
I cooked burgers at Chili’s, worked as an oyster shucker at the Capitol Oyster Company, moved pianos, and organized books at the Texas Civil Rights Project. Later on I worked as a translator, an interpreter, an English teacher, a consultant, a birding trail mapmaker, a butterfly counter, a web site designer, a photographer, a community development advocate, a marketing director for the Cherokee Heritage Center, and a johnny-on-the-spot maker of windmill trails, rural museum tourism guides, and copywriter for a guy who transferred embryos from quarterhorses to surrogate mares by sticking his entire arm up the horse’s you-know-what.
I worked as a web site marketer, the campaign manager for a U.S. Senate campaign, an art importer, a water advocate who called T. Boone Pickens an asshole, and a lawyer. I’ve written a column in a country newspaper and I’ve been paid for writing blogs and writing books, one about cycling and the other about finding birds on the Texas Gulf Coast.
But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I hit rock bottom.
You see, every couple of days I send out a little email that has local cycling news in it. Mostly it consists of “I’m doing the x-Ride tomorrow, come if you want to.” It kind of lets people in the South Bay know what’s going on and it goes out to about 110 people.
Then two weeks ago all of the messages bounced. I trolled around on the Internet and learned that the Galactic Monitor Against Spammers, something called Spamhaus, had labeled me a global spammer. Henceforth I wouldn’t be able to send emails to people who had asked to receive them.
So I subscribed to Constant Contact, which lets you spam up to 500 people for $15/month. Now, everyone who asks to be on the list will receive a very spammy looking piece of cycling spam mail. Better than that, I can add this to my resume: GLOBAL SPAMMER.
Not just “winning.” That’s “won.”
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February 20, 2015 § 40 Comments
I often see friends post photos of their new bike/car/house/facelift and it usually makes me kind of sad, and a little jealous. There’s something about the act of saying “Look what I own!” that makes me cringe. And it’s funny because hardly anyone seems to put up photos on Fakebook of the books they read. It’s as if you can possess a nice, shiny Bulgemobile and that’s COOL, but you can’t brag about having read a book.
However, my friends who are full-on consumers, who have Porsches and Ferraris in the garage, who have palatial homes here, there, and over yonder, who have bike collections that include separate full carbon extra wheelsets made of carbon to go with each rig, these guys and gals are really just amateur materialists.
When it comes to things, no one is a more hard core materialistic bastard than I am. Just because I don’t put it on Facegag doesn’t mean I’m not the King of Consumerism.
Skeptics will argue that I’m no materialist and will point to my small apartment, my single Prius (a Smugster 4-door, 125k miles), the fact that my casual clothing lineup consists of two pairs of jeans, two hoodies, one gimme cap, and fifteen t-shirts, and they will put the nail in the coffin of their argument when they point out that I only own one bicycle.
But they’re wrong. I’m as materialistic as it gets, but unlike the amateurs with garages and homes full of the latest gewgaw they bought at the LBS or the Bentley dealer, I’ve only got about four prized possessions. What they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. Let me share one of them with you.
When my Grandfather Jim Turner died, he didn’t have very much. A .38 Smith & Wesson, an old 12-gauge with a unique pump-action barrel (trust me, you’ve never seen one), and a big plastic wafer that said “Birth Control Kit for Ladies — Hold between knees and squeeze.”
The top drawer in his chest had an envelope in it. Inside was his only family heirloom, and he left it to me.
His grandfather, John Turner, fought for the rebellion in the Civil War. One of the things that every soldier carried was a powder measure because they had to measure just the right amount of gunpowder to pour into their rifle. Too little powder and the ball would plop out of the barrel. Too much powder and the breech would blow up in your face.
Great-great-grandfather Turner took the breastbone of a wild turkey, which was hollow, and cut it off so that it held just the right amount of powder. Then he drilled a hole in the bone and ran a buckskin thong through it and hung it around his neck. In battle he could crouch down on his knee, dip his powder measure into his powder bag without looking, level it off with his finger, and always get the right amount.
You can see the black gunpowder on the inside. That’s Civil War gunpowder, and the last time my great-great-grandfather used it was shortly before Appomattox, where he surrendered with Lee. When you hold it in your hand it’s light but incredibly strong. Sometimes late at night when I can’t sleep and the demons are raging and I’m soaked in sweat and being dead seems preferable to getting up in the morning I hold the powder measure and roll it between my fingers. When I do, I think about my grandfather. He had a flat-bottomed boat that he would use to take me and my brother fishing on the Lake O’ the Pines. The name of the boat was the Ian-Seth.
I think about my grandfather and how gentle he was and how much he loved us, and how that love has strengthened me more than anything in my life. Then I usually fall right to sleep.
I wonder if other people feel the same way about their carbon bikes and Italian cars?
I hope they do.
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February 19, 2015 § 43 Comments
State Senator Carol Liu from Pasadena (to that area’s undying shame) has introduced a bill to make helmets mandatory for bicycle riders. Scofflaws will get tagged with a $25 fine, and the police will have something really significant to spend their time doing, finally.
Here is a thoughtful discussion about the issue, but it’ll be a CBR crit without wheelsuckers before I sacrifice eighteen minutes of my life to hear clever people debate stupid things.
Of course the problem with the helmet law is that it doesn’t go far enough. Like lots of well-meaning mommy state legislation, it only protects part of the intended maroon, in this case his or her head. For the law to really work, and I believe it’s important for state and local government to play a role in bike safety (especially when the pepper spraying, handcuff clinking, baton swinging, pistol packing police are involved), the law must completely protect us.
Heavy gloves, joint padding, and full downhill MTB armor are what’s needed to ensure that little kids going to school don’t fall off their bicycles and get a boo-boo on their po-po. In addition, the bill needs to be amended to cover the crucial areas of bike speed and componentry. A statewide bike speed limit of 12-mph should be included, because the faster you pedal your bicycle the more you get hurt when you fall off it for being drunk or stupid or racing or all three.
The 12-mph speed limit would also ensure that most triathletes don’t get dropped in bike races, and would allow the weak and infirm to catch back on after getting shelled on hard climbs.
Bike dangerousness should likewise be addressed with weight restrictions. Heavier bikes have been shown to go slower and to act as excellent self-defense weapons in sketchy neighborhoods. Getting whacked over the head with Strava Jr.’s 2-lb. full carbon rig which is all carbon and made of 100% carbon isn’t nearly as big a deterrent to crime as getting pounded by a 50-lb. steel-and-lead composite frame.
It’s unfortunate that Liu’s bill is such a liuser and that she doesn’t really care about our safety. But there’s another reason to support helmets, body armor, bike speed limits, minimum weights, and materials legislation: Brad House hates it.
Basically, Brad is a libertarian, which means “Let me make the laws.” Brad opposes all laws which are against his personal interest or which haven’t been personally approved by Ron Paul. This is a law that will drive Brad whacky(er). He will rant. He will rave. He will talk graphically about his exploits in and out of the bedroom. He will join political movements, overwhelm social media, and dash hither and yon in those black shorts with the back panels that expired back in ’96, blinding everyone with his hairy, unblinking brown eye. He might even sell his $2 Stetson and move back to California.
Let’s face it. California has gone to shit since Brad’s departure and the only way to make this once-proud state great again is to get Mr. Nuttypants back. Supporting Carol Liu’s law and getting it amended so that we’re completely protected is the way to do it, and by protection I mean mandatory condoms, measles vaccinations, and impact-proof welding goggles for every rider over the age of three is the only way we’ll truly make cycling safe and have Brad to kick around for another year or so.
Our only other option is to enforce existing traffic laws and force cagers to stop running us over.
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February 18, 2015 § 31 Comments
Scattered observations on a Tuesday afternoon, scattered because earlier today Outlook slammed shut and the .pst data file got corrupted. That’s okay! It’s only 15-gigs and it only has 99,000 files!
Fortunately, MicroStupid has the Outlook Inbox Repair Tool and his name is Bill Gates. You turn on the repair tool and it scans the .pst file, except the word “scan” doesn’t quite fit. When I was kid I learned that “scan” meant to quickly look over something, but in MicroStupidese “scan” means “pull out the Sunday Times or Thomas Mann’s ‘Magic Mountain’ in German because it’s gonna take a while.”
After scanning, or shall we say trundling, the Tool indicated that my file was corrupted. Was I surprised to learn that something associated with me is corrupt? No. So I hit the “repair now” button and it did what MicroStupid is famous for: Hanging.
“Perhaps there’s a repair tool for the repair tool?” I wondered. So I googled “repair tool repair tool” and it took me to http://www.bighairytools.com. I won’t hyperlink; you’ll have to find that fifty-first shade of grey on your own.
Like an idiot I then reinstalled MS Office and since we apparently have the Cox Discount Internet Package, where electrons are hand-carried over to my apartment one by one in a wheelbarrow, it’s going to take a while. And we won’t mention the unhappy fact that after it’s reinstalled, the .pst file will still be corrupt.
Chasing the money
On Sunday I was scattered, too. Scattered from chasing Greg Leibert a/k/a G$ as he attacked nonstop for fifty minutes at the CBR Crit #2 over in Carson. Greg didn’t win but he rode a real bike race while almost all of the eighty other riders in the field hunkered down, did nothing, and waited for the sprunt.
The mere act of following G$’s attacks makes you feel like you did something worthwhile, even though all it got me was worn out. And in their defense, the reason that most of the other wankers didn’t attack is because they couldn’t.
This is gonna be gnarly
Lots of social media howler monkeys have shrieked with glee upon hearing the news that Drugstrong got popped for a cool $10m when he lost his “I perjured myself like a fugger but a crooked deal’s a deal” defense at the SCA arbitration. He’s also being sued for the balance in state court, and the Feds + Floyd are about to give him the Sodom + Gomorrah treatment in the whistleblower suit as they seek $300m in damages. With an estimated net worth of $125m, Drugstrong is going to look back on 2015 as the year he moved back in with his mom.
I know that gives a lot of people pleasure. It’s fun to watch rude and mean people get hammered, I suppose. I have to confess that when he first got dethroned I thought he was going to make a clean breast of things and that he would take the noble route and be a noble guy. Color me garishly stupid. But none of it makes me particularly happy, any more than it makes me happy when a convicted killer gets life without parole. Mostly I just feel sad. Sad for the victims, sad for the perp, and sad for Betsy.
Bikes still make kids happy
On a super happy note, Matt Smith’s appeal on this wankerish blog netted a bunch of free bikes for his high school’s new MTB team, as well as clothing, equipment, and donations. What a wonderful bunch of people you are. You’ve made a difference in the lives of these kids. They’ll remember what you did long after you’ve forgotten. Too bad you have such lousy taste in reading material.
Tri-dorks heart Bike scum
Speaking of lousy reading material, I was blown away that my tongue-in-cheek rant about triathletes and bike weight got posted in the biggest tri-dork chat forum, Slowtwitch. Not surprised that they picked it up, but surprised that a bunch of them made friendly comments. Most of the time when something I write winds up on a forum it gets burned to the ground because apparently a lot of people think that I write news, or that I report facts, or that I really think I know anything about the subjects I write about.
Anyway, thanks to all you tri-dorks you got the joke, even if it was a pretty lame one. And thanks as well to the one tri-dork on the forum who took it all very seriously and was outraged that I’d be so outrageous and that I was also wrong and a hypocrite. That dude spends way too much time on my sister publication, Red Kite Bore.
Golf is “Flog” spelled backwards
Mega-props to Emily Georgeson, the “sprinter” who got 2nd at Punchbowl behind Katie Donovan, the quintessential twiggy climber type who sprints like a battleship, corners like a city bus, but climbs like blood pressure at the Heart Attack Cafe. Emily’s success is down to hard work, smart riding, and a great coach-riding partner in Aaron Wimberley, but the meat and potatoes of her climbing prowess is our Thursday Flog Ride around the Golf Course.
That ride turns everyone into shrapnel. It’s tactical, there’s nowhere to hide, there are no stoplights, and it’s flat fuggin hard.
Speaking of hard, Robert Efthimos took a nasty tumble leading out the Cat 3 sprunt at CBR on Sunday and separated his shoulder. What’s worse, he also separated his carbon seat stays which are full carbon. Heal up, Sausage! And the next time you get the bright idea to do anything in a Cat 3 race other than NOT SIGN UP, don’t do it!
For those who don’t know it, Robert is the president-elect of La Grange, one of the oldest and most venerated racing clubs in the U.S. He is doing everything right to refocus the club back on racing, and his efforts have resulted in a strong La Grange presence at races. Guys like Robert and Greg Seyranian, who have an open door policy and who emphasize racing for people who JOIN A FUGGIN BIKE RACING CLUB are the key to the grass roots development that saw such amazing turnout at the races on Sunday. Hats off, Sausage. Hope you’re herding the frogs there for years to come.
The eyes have it
On a related note, Ronnie Toth called me the other day to talk about his MB Grand Prix crash that I’d written up several months ago. I expected a tongue lashing but got nothing of the sort. He was funny, polite, intelligent, and slightly butthurt (his words), and in the end we saw eye to eye regarding his terrible accident and the danger of the ubiquitous steel barriers.
Had Ronnie not been wearing his SPY shades he would have lost an eye, perhaps both. He’s had titanium reconstruction on part of his skull, and his nose was rebuilt with bone and cartilage from a rib. It’s amazing that he’s recovered so quickly, and when he told SPY about the sight-saving effect of the glasses, they gave him glasses … for life. Lots of reasons I support SPY, but nothing exemplifies it like this kind of stuff.
Huge props to Ronnie for getting back on the bike.
My good friend Michelle L. did her first bike race on Sunday. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, on the bike or off, and before she got into cycling she ran a lot and she ran fast. Michelle took the plunge and had a blast. She had a lot of encouragement which outweighed all the wankers who said “WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT????”
Answer: Because it’s thrilling and kind of dangerous and hard as hell and fun. Michelle rode towards the front and then rode AT the front for the last five laps and still snagged seventh. Welcome to the sorority, Michelle! [Note: Michelle is also one of the riders who does the Flog Ride, and there’s no way any crit is as miserable as that.]
SPY Optic is having its grand opening on Friday, Feb. 20, from 10:00 AM to whenever at their full service retail outlet in Leucadia, located on the 101. There will be a happy hour and live music and male strippers and female porn stars and President Clinton and celebrity cyclists such as Greg LeMond, Sean Kelly, Jacques Anquetil, and Pee Wee Herman. So don’t miss it.
Rosena Ranch Circuit Race is this Saturday. It’s the best, most awesome, challenging, technical, impressive, wonderful, and truly incredible race course in the history of the sport even though it’s in San Bernardino. Cycling fans will recall Rosena Ranch as the place where I broke my 30-year jinx and rode to solo victory against a field of midgets and a corpse. However, a win is a win, and if I can win there, so can you. Plus, there is lots to do in the surrounding areas, like meth and stuff.
Okay, looks like Orifice has been reinstalled, and as expected the .pst file is still corrupt. Time to plunk down $199.95 for DataNumen Outlook Repair. I’m sure everything will be fine.
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February 17, 2015 § 63 Comments
I saw this VeloNews load of crap when it came out about six months ago, and ignored it because, obviously, it was written by a triathlete.
“What do you have against triathletes, Wanky?”
Nothing. Some of the people who I might otherwise consider friends are triathletes. But the bottom line is that when you’re looking for bike racing advice, triathletes are complete, hopeless, and utter morons. The only thing worse is seeking bike racing advice from a blog on the Internet. Nonetheless, what triathletes do has nothing in common with bike racing. They get on a bicycle and pedal it hard. Hardest pedaler gets there first. Brain not required.
So when I saw that Jim Gourley is “demystifying the science of triathlon” I kept on going. First, last time I checked, there is no section in Science for “Triathlonology.” Nor I have ever heard of a “triathlonologist.” What I have seen, and seen plenty of, are tri-dorks.
Unfortunately, someone brought this corpse of an article back from the dead and posted it on Facebag, where a handful of actual cyclists noted their approval. Oh, brother.
To sum it up, Gourley wants you to believe that bike weight doesn’t really matter. He proves this by taking out his calculator and plugging in some numbers, assuming identical rider weight and an identical steady grade. Air resistance, we’re told, isn’t factored in. That’s so we can have a model that is as far from reality as those triathlon outfits are from attractive.
What he “discovers” in his windless lab where everyone rides along at the same power output is that a one-pound weight advantage only gives you a 2.5 second advantage in his fantasy lab setting. And who doesn’t race in a laboratory?
Unfortunately, if you read this correctly, you need to go screaming out to your nearest bike shop and get the lightest bike you can find. Why? Because 2.5 seconds in a hilly road race — or any bike race — is a crushing, dominating victory. Unlike triathlon, where 2.5 seconds on the bike is easily wiped out in the run, if you put 2.5 seconds on someone at the end of a bike race you have made them your bitch and they will have to spend the whole fucking morning on Monday looking at stupid pictures of you with your arms raised on Facebag.
But there’s more. Gourley the Triathlonologist says that a 3-lb. difference will give you a 7.5-second advantage when racing in his laboratory. This is not just a beatdown, it’s being skinned alive. And here’s the good part: For about a thousand bucks you can shave 1.5 pounds off your bike with a light pair of full carbon tubulars that are full carbon and made out of carbon.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “The last time I was in a lab someone bent me over and put on a latex glove.”
Exactly. The only people who race in labs are, apparently, triathlonologists as they’re working on the latest research project that will hopefully get them a Nobel Prize in Triathlonology.
The rest of us contend in road races that are on roads with actual wind, and we compete against people who don’t weigh exactly what we do in events that don’t require a steady power output. This means several things:
- The weight advantage of a light bike is increased when you’re racing someone who is in the wind while you’re sheltered. The guy pounding it on the front of the climb, even if he isn’t saddled with a heavier bike (which he often is), is taking the brunt of the wind. When you’re sucking wheel three bikes back riding a rig that’s 3-pounds lighter than his, Gourley’s “7.5 second advantage,” or rather the savings in watts, becomes even more significant.
- The weight advantage of a light bike is increased when you’re racing uphill against someone who’s fatter than you are. On the flip side, if you’re the porker, a lighter bike diminishes your chub disadvantage to the tweezly twig-men who are driving the pace, especially if you’re combining a light bike with massive wheelsuckery.
- Different riders have different power profiles. Tri-dorks tend to dominate in the “Duhhhhh” power band, which requires mindless mashing at a steady state. Hilly road races, however, are surge-fests. Intense 2-3 minute bursts on the climb shake out the wankers. The leaders take a rest and the pace drops dramatically. Then they kick it again. These continual surges thin the herd and put a premium on your ability to go fast on a climb, slow down, then go fast again. In this context, bike weight in general and wheel weight in particular is huge when you’re on a hard climb because you have to get the damned thing up to speed over and over and over, unlike the tri-dork who wraps it up to 27 mph and holds it there until his teeth rot out. In other words, every last gram matters when it comes to acceleration.
The other problem with extrapolations from the science of triathlon to the witch craftery of bike racing is that disparities caused by weight don’t make themselves felt in a linear fashion throughout the race such that, at the end, the lighter wanker is 2.5 seconds ahead.
What actually happens in a hilly bike race is that the 10 or 15-watt differential enjoyed by the guy on the carbon bike made of full carbon makes itself felt early on, and it results in you getting your ass shellacked on the climb. Once unhitched, you spiral off the back and are left to battle with the wind — no shelter from the peloton — by yourself. The “2.5 second” differential turns into minutes by the end of the race, with you dejectedly struggling through the finish zone and embarrassed onlookers try to make you feel good by ignoring you or saying “Good job,” in mousy, quiet voices.
How many times have you been in a race where the difference between hanging on and getting kicked out the back has been a mere one or two pedal strokes? Suddenly those “7.5” seconds look like what they are: A huge differential that can decide the entire race. And of course when you’ve got great form, are already tiny, are riding smart, and have the lightest rig, you’re truly stacking the deck.
Weight matters when the road tilts up. Every single gram. And if you’re listening to a triathlonologist for bike racing advice, well, you deserve what you get.
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